By Chuck White, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs
On Aug. 10, 2021, the Senate approved a long-awaited and debated $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that includes $579 billion in new spending for specific infrastructure needs. A majority of that spending is targeted to transportation – combined funds to the tune of $274 billion. For the plumbing and HVAC industry, there are funding mechanisms found in several allocations – $55 billion for water infrastructure, $47 billion for resiliency, and $5 billion for western water storage. Much of this money is for streams and waterway infrastructure projects, but parts of this money are available for water distribution projects.
Of particular note, $100 million is targeted for lead service line replacements, with priority given to low-income communities. These programs also should consider older water distribution systems in buildings; some lead building distribution pipes are still in service. There is also evidence that increased flows from new service piping can dislodge years of accumulated building piping contaminants, in some cases exacerbating water quality problems for consumers. PHCC supports a cautious approach and the use of professional plumbers when doing this work.
Additional funding has been allocated for residential and commercial energy efficiency revolving loan and capital grant programs. Energy efficiency upgrade funding for schools and weatherization programs are included, with additional support for career skills training. Funding these water and energy savings actions will pay future dividends, while developing a skilled workforce will get people back to work in good paying, secure jobs.
While, as of this writing, the House of Representatives has yet to take up the bill, it is an excellent example of bi-partisan efforts to move this country forward. The proposal is less than half of what the Biden administration was asking for, but it is a significant amount that will have a meaningful impact on lives from coast to coast.
Vice President of Regulatory Affairs , PHCC-National Association